To celebrate the release of Lonely Girl, author Lynne Vincent McCarthy’s new novel published by Pan Macmillan, I have a Q & A with Lynne I would love to share with you all. It is true pleasure to welcome Lynne to Mrs B’s Book Reviews for a Q & A session. My review of Lonely Girl was recently published on the blog.
About the author…
Lynne Vincent McCarthy is a script advisor and screenwriter and has worked as a Development Executive at Screen Australia, Screen NSW and Screen Tasmania. Lonely Girl is her first novel. It has also been developed for film. She lives in Sydney.
Hello Lynne. It is my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. I greatly appreciate the time you have provided to answer a few questions. To begin, Lonely Girl, your debut novel for Pan Macmillan has recently been released. Can you give us an outline of what we can expect?
Lonely Girl is a psychological thriller from a very female point of view. You can expect something a bit different to the usual crime thriller in that it places the reader in a very intimate relationship with just one character. The crime is essentially the backdrop or foundation for Ana’s complex personal journey and indeed her own crimes. Even though I chose a subjective point of view for Ana’s story I also wrote it in third person because I wanted the reader to have enough distance to question her choices, even whilst fully immersed within her dilemma. I think you can expect a tense, atmospheric and hopefully surprising journey with Ana.
Q. What came first in the creation of this novel – the title, the plot, the characters or the setting when you first set out to write Lonely Girl?
A. I’m giving away plot here but from the beginning I had the scenario of a woman holding a man captive in my mind. From the basic foundation of that concept, the central character of Ana immediately stepped into the picture, along with the nagging questions of why and how. The novel’s title and wider location in Tasmania came along with Ana.
Q. Did you need to undertake any research to bring Lonely Girl to life?
A. No, nothing beyond the specific details I needed to tell Ana’s story, things to do with her workplace etc. Because the point of view is so subjectively hers I stuck closely to what she knows and/or has to learn on her journey and most of what I needed to set up was easily accessible information.
Q. Let’s talk setting. What made you decide to base your debut novel in Tasmania?
A. I had been living in Hobart for a few years when I started working on Ana’s story and it just felt right that she grew out of that environment. Tasmania is such an atmospheric location with so much dark and complex history. There is still something wild and untamed about it and even in Hobart where I lived you only have to drive a short distance to step into wilderness. It’s also a place where it’s easy to feel isolated. For me it was an organic choice that perhaps grew out of both my own sense of isolation and my fascination for the place. Creatively it’s such an inspiring environment that gets the imagination flowing so the choice was an easy one.
Q. Where did the inspiration for the character of Ana come from?
A. I think she was in part inspired by the grief I felt at the loss of a very special dog in my life, and the isolation I experienced at that time. I wanted to channel those feelings into something creative. I’ve also had a life long fascination with complex characters and the darker aspects and impulses of being human. I believe most people are capable of pretty much anything, given the right or wrong circumstances, and sometimes questionable choices come from deep desires and needs that we can all related to.
Q. Is there a particular scene in Lonely Girl that you are proud of?
A. That’s a hard one to answer without giving too much away but I am particularly proud of all of the scenes between Ana and Luke. Their relationship essentially happens within one location that has its own set of limitations and it was challenging to keep the tension and intrigue building through those scenes rather than the action feeling repetitive.
Q. I believe Lonely Girl has been developed into a film, could you tell us more about this?
A. Lonely Girl was actually developed as a film initially and I worked on the screenplay on and off for almost five years before adapting the story to the novel form. A film is still on the cards but I can’t reveal much about that at this stage.
Q. Did you celebrate the official release day of Lonely Girl in a special way?
A. I’m a story developer for feature films and I had a lot of work to get through that day so I didn’t even get to go out to a bookstore to see mine on the shelf. I had a fantastic launch party a few days before though so that was my celebration.
Q. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
A. I was in the fortunate position of having a publisher on board from the outset. As I said the project began as a screenplay, which had the support of some great people, one of who passed the screenplay onto a commissioning editor at Pan Macmillan. She liked it enough to ask for a sample of the first few chapters to make sure I could write prose. From there I was given a small advance to write a first draft. The manuscript went through three quite major rewrites and quite a lot of final tweaking with my brilliant editors before it went to print. It was almost three years from when I wrote the sample until I had a final draft.
Q. Your writing has been compared to the prolific authors such as Patricia Highsmith and Paula Hawkins. What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
A. I love both those writers so that’s a very nice comparison. There are many writers that I enjoy and take inspiration from. I do like to read crime thrillers but I draw inspiration from a wide range, from Alice Sebold to Stephen King to Cormac McCarthy, just to name a few.
Q. Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
A. My writing desk looks out on a garden so there’s lots of green. I’m one of those people who needs clear space around me. I also love to write first thing in the morning, preferably when it is still dark and quiet, so my writing day will often in bed. I have a brilliant tray table that I use which honestly makes writing in bed a little too comfortable. I also like to include walking time in my routine and find I solve a lot of problems that way. It helps that I live by the ocean.
Q. How do you balance life with writing?
A. It’s a tricky one but something I don’t have to worry too much about given I don’t have a partner or kids. That can be a trap too though because there’s nothing stopping me working through a weekend. I do make a concerted effort to take time out to refuel and I rarely work at nights.
Q. What is next on the horizon for Lynne Vincent McCarthy? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
A. I have started a second novel but it’s very early days. I can tell you that it’s another psychological thriller with a complex female protagonist. I’m hoping to get some time to commit fully to developing that story very soon.
Q. Finally, what 2018 book releases are you most excited to read?
A. I have a pile of books by my bedside waiting for me to read, including Kim Scott’s TABOO, Christian White’s THE NOWHERE CHILD and Gabriel Tallent’s MY ABSOLUTE DARLING. They’re not all 2018 releases but I don’t tend to read a lot while I’m writing so I have a bit of catching up to do. I most recently read Sarah Schmidt’s SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, which was great.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews Lynne and congratulations on the publication of Lonely Girl.
Thank you for inviting me.
Connect with Lynne here:
If this Q & A enticed you to read Lonely Girl, here is the blurb:
In the shadow of a mountain in small-town Tasmania, a woman named Ana is watching the clock, marking the days until she ends her life.
The strange, reclusive daughter of the local pariah, that’s how the people will remember her, when they remember her at all. No one will mourn her, she reasons, not really. Not even her faithful dog River. The only thing she’s waiting for is the opportunity.
But then, on the very day she planned to end it all, the police find the body of local woman Rebecca Marsden. And for Ana, that changes everything. Because Ana was the last person to see Rebecca alive. Because Ana thinks she knows who killed her. And because Ana has decided to keep him for herself…
Lonely Girl by Lynne Vincent McCarthy was published on June 26th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.